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Doctors Pull Together Complex Hospital Merger

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – A year of tense negotiations over western new york hospital consolidation ended in a marathon session Saturday and Sunday. About 60 people involved in the merger and lawsuits met with the judge and managed to hammer out an agreement.

The on again, off again negotiations broke down all together last week. That was dire news with a deadline looming this week that would have meant a hospital closure and the loss of millions of dollars for health care improvements.

That's why the doctors who have to work in both the hospitals stepped in.

Dr. David Dunn is vice president of health Services for UB. He said they had one goal - a better health care system.

The agreement calls for an independent physician board to decide any changes in health care delivery at the Erie County Medical Center or Kaleida. It would take an 80 percent majority vote by the joint hospital board to over ride them. Joint hospital board chair Robert Gioia said they trust the doctors to choose what is best for the patient.

For now, the parties seem to be satisfied with what they are getting from the settlement. It clears the way for a heart vascular center to be built at Buffalo General. And ECMC will keep its assets for capital improvements and labor contracts there. Chief Executive Officer Michael Young said he is pleased they are now recognized as a campus of the joint system.

County Executive Chris Collins called the agreement a major win for the community.

The agreement still needs approval from the New York State Health Commissioner Richard Daines. He asked for more time to review details. A court hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

In the meantime, the county will continue its article 78 proceeding. That could force closure of one of either ECMC or Buffalo General if an agreement isn't formalized by the end of the week.

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